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K > KAYPRO > Kaypro 10

Kaypro 10

Ernest W. Adams's memories:
My wife and I hauled our Kaypro 10 all the way to a remote location in southern Egypt for use on an archaeological dig in January of 1984. We think it may be the first portable computer ever used on an archaeological site.
We ran it off a Honda gasoline generator, and it stood up to the heat and dust like a champ. It proved to be invaluable too -- the dig generated so much data that it really needed a database, and we were able to provide one (dBase II) for the first time.
I've still got the machine. I haven't booted it up for years, but I don't doubt that it still works.

This was taken in March of 1984. The ruined city
in the background is the fortress of Qasr Ibrim, in upper Egypt.

Howard Boyle's memories. Howard was the engineering manager for a number of the Kaypro projects.
I used to work for a retailer of Kaypro products in Virginia.  The retailer was called Community Computers and it was a very interesting place as Community Computers was "owned" by the "Church of the Community" and was basically a commune.  While I was not part of the commune, they found me useful enough to actually pay to fix computers, mostly Ohio Scientific
computers, and design custom hardware.  In any event, they became resellers of the Kaypro line of products and the owner, Michael Versace, came to know David Kay who was the son of the Kaypro founder Andy Kay.  Kaypro originally
was part of Non-Linear systems which was started by Andy.

When I graduated from engineering school, Michael put in a good word for me with David Kay and David hired me as an engineer.  I had owned a Kaypro 10 when I was in school so I knew about a quirk in the video system that resulted in a seemingly random pixel to be lit during video scrolling.  It was not a big deal but, as an engineer, I found it annoying.

I showed up at Kaypro on my first day and my appearance was somewhat a surprise to the head of engineering, Roland Johnson (later my father-in-law), as David had neglected to inform him that I was hired.  I literally did not have any work assigned to do.  So, I just went over to the board repair facility and started giving them a hand in fixing defective main boards.  I figured I would find out what problems they were having in manufacturing and then work on the solutions.  The board repair guys were not sure what to think of me just showing up but they were happy to have the help.  Anyway, I saw quite a number of K10 main boards there and they often had video problems.  I selected about 10 of them and took them back to the engineering area to investigate what was going on with them.  I found that there was a timing problem and, in fact, it was lucky any of the K10s worked.  We were fortunate that the ICs we were using were mostly faster than their specifications as there was a "race condition" that would create a number of pixel problems.  Chips that just met or were even slightly better than specification would cause the race condition to manifest. The repair group folks were just selecting chips from a large batch and swapping them until the problem went away. Eventually, one would be fast enough to
solve the race problem.

The only way to fix the problem was to rev the main board.  After some discussion with Roland and his discussion with Andy, a new board layout was done and the new fixed boards went into production.  Kaypro had to scrap about 200 - 300 of the old style boards which was a significant cost hit. On the plus side, my redesign took out about $10.00 of parts per board so it
came out positive in the end.  After this, I became an accepted member of the Kaypro team and shortly thereafter began work on what became the K16. 

We always had problems with the Tandem hard disk drives in the K10 as they were not as robust as drives are today.  There were always a fair number of rejected drives on racks in the hallways.

Waterproof Kaypro, by Karen Clough:
I began working on a Kaypro II in the beginning of 1983.  I was given the task of learning everything I could about it and all of it's capabilities in two weeks (which I did, 8 hours per day for 10 days).  Then I was to teach my employers what I had learned.  The teaching went well until one of my supervisors wouldn't even get on the same side of the room as the machine...oh well...her loss.

One day when I came into work I found that a 4 inch diameter hot water pipe for the steam heat in the builing had broken and there was steaming hot water pouring straight down onto the Okidata printer and the Kaypro with a force similar to that of a fire hose.  I quickly called the only computer repair shop in town and asked them what to do.  They said don't turn it on.  Bring it straight to us.  They took both the printer and the Kaypro apart and dried them out.  When I went to pick them up, the repair shop said that the amount of gold in the connections saved the day.  The only thing that had to be replaced was the print head and ribbon on the printer.

The portability of the Kaypro was supurb allowing me to take it home and back to work frequently easily.  Great machines!

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